The Chair will function as a regional initiative for UNESCO through its International Hydrological Programme (IHP) and will play a key role in providing research on how government, institutions and communities can sustainably manage and ensure easier access to clean water and sanitation.
Additionally, it puts Namibia in a better position to serve as the leader in water-climate interaction research. Honourable Dr Itah Kandjii-Murangi, the Minister of Higher Education, Training and Innovation, delivered the keynote address at the event.
“Namibia has made enormous progress in providing safe water to the majority of her citizens. According to the 2011 Census, 87 percent of Namibians have access to potable or safe drinking water. Similar progress can be noted for other southern African countries. While this is a significant achievement, access to safe water varies across regions and our country faces serious water shortages and severe droughts,” Dr Kandjii-Murangi remarked.
She went on to highlight that this event has therefore come at the right time. In the same breath, the Minister acknowledged that to ensure that the status quo is alleviated, more resources must be availed by government.
Professor Hubert Gijzen, the UNESCO Regional Director, emphasised the need to support innovation in the water sector. “We need to develop more efficient water use systems, water saving technologies, and ‘more crop per drop” approaches. And to develop and implement these innovations, we need stronger water sector institutions, research and human capacities,” he said.
Dr Tjama Tjivikua, the NUST Vice-Chancellor, added that outcomes of such research should be available to policy-makers and help solve a broad range of challenges that confront humanity. Amongst the highlights of the event, was that Professor Nnenesi Kgabi from the Faculty of Engineering, was appointed as the Chair-Holder, with broad intellectual and material support from NUST and the stakeholders.